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Filipinos need own arms manufacturing technology–Zubiri

BOULDER CITY, Nevada—Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri says it is time to develop and support the Philippines’s very own weapon manufacturing technology by turning his priority bill—Philippine Defense Industry Development Act—into a law this year.

Zubiri, 53, told BusinessMirror that he projects the bill to be passed at the committee level in the second quarter in the Senate so that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. can sign it into law within the year.

“Pro defense is absolutely pro Philippines,” Zubiri said after he tested the ARMSCOR Global Defense’s newly-launched latest product RIA 5.0 firearm pistol in a windy and very cold weather desert here at the 2023 Shot Show’s Media Day on Monday.

“Maybe within this year we hope to pass it on the committee level by this quarter or maybe the second quarter; hopefully before the break we [can] pass it,” he added. “It’s moving also in the [House of Representatives] as well with Speaker Martin Romualdez also in favor of this.”

President Marcos, Zubiri said, is expected to sign it since he has been supportive of the bill for a Defense Industry Development Act (DIDA) from the very beginning.

“We shoot at the PSG firing range together with the President and he’s very vocal about it, so I’m sure he will sign it.”

The DIDA bill would amend procurement laws; support the local weapons manufacturing technology back home; and encourage some international companies to build factories or plants here in the Philippines and hire Filipinos.

“The procurement laws dictate that there must be a bidding process at the lowest price. You know in the defense industry, the lowest is the poorest and not the best among the items, just like guns that won’t fire most of the time and [are] jammed. We must consider only the best for our military, our police force, and for our defense forces.”

Zubiri, who filed Senate Bill 315 last July 22—backed by fellow Senators Ronald Dela Rosa and Jinggoy Estrada—asserted that the country must be self-reliant in its defense military forces due to the increasing threats in the Indo pacific region.

And, he stressed, a “minimum credible defense program” is not acceptable for the Philippines, noting that most of our Southeast Asian neighbors like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam have been preparing for many years to establish a self-reliant and strong defense force.

“You see what happened during the Marawi Siege in 2017, when Filipino soldiers had a hard time fighting the insurgents due to lack of ammunition,” he said. “We were ordering ammunition abroad from other countries instead of getting it from our local manufacturers.”

“It’s 100 percent diplomacy, but back it up with 100 percent defensive capabilities.”

He also thinks the government should support ARMSCOR Global Defense for proving itself as one of the premium firearms and ammunition makers in the world throughout the years, by not just relying on the Philippine market.

“If they just only relied on the Philippine market, I think ARMSCOR [would have] already closed by now, but they relied on their international market. So why don’t we support them locally, let’s give them a fair chance in bidding,” Zubiri said.

“They do not want to be embarrassed, so I believe Filipinos will do their best to have an effective and best product.”

Zubiri will be the main guest of ARMSCOR Global Defense—one of the guns and ammunition exhibitors—on the opening day of the 2023 Shot Show Exhibit on Tuesday at the Venetian Hotel.

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